Dear President-Elect Trump, I am not a Democrat or a Republican, I am just someone who cares about the future of our country. I know that you’ve been very busy lately and may not have had the time to sit down and write your Inaugural Address yet. I had some time on my hands and took the liberty of taking a swing at it for you. I hope that you can find something of value. Best of luck as you assume the most powerful office in the free world.
Senator McConnell, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Pence, Vice President Biden, Senator Schumer, and my fellow citizens:
Nearly 20 months ago, I launched my campaign for the presidency with a simple pledge to “Make America Great Again.” I want to be very clear that my goal is to make America Great Again for every single American. After the election, I had the great honor of visiting President Obama in The White House. Before we met in the Oval Office, the President gave me a tour and I was struck by a simple saying from John Adams carved into the mantle above the fireplace in the State Dining Room: “May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” Over the last few weeks during the transition I have thought back to the Adams quote and have come to the conclusion that I am not only going to Make America Great Again, I am going to do it with the kind of character that makes every American proud of the Trump presidency. You can count on me and my administration to lead our great nation with humility, with honesty, and with respect for all Americans. I recognize that the campaign was brutal and there are a few apologies that I would like to make:
First of all, to President Obama. I spent a lot of time attacking your character and trying to convince Americans that you were not born in this country. Over the last eight years, you and the First Lady have led this country with incredible honor, dignity, and character. I aspire to be the same kind of role model that you have been and I apologize for my past actions.
To Secretary Clinton, we had a tough campaign and I said some things during the heat of battle that I regret. I want to thank you for your tireless service to our nation over the last 35 years. I am embarrassed that many of my rallies led with the chant of “lock her up.” You did not deserve this and I hope that you will accept my apologies.
To the Hispanic, Muslim, disabled, and other minority communities, I realize that my campaign was not very inclusive. I realize that I said some things that were not becoming of the President of the United States, I apologize for my words and actions and I want you to know that I will be a kind and compassionate President during my years in the White House.
To our friends around the world, America has a great tradition of being a humble leader and of doing our best to help others in need. This tradition will not only continue under my leadership, it will expand. These are challenging times and the United States of America and I will continue to take the lead in advocating for human rights around the world and will continue to work hard for world peace. In the end, we all share the same planet and we are all part of the same global community. Technology has made our world smaller and will continue to bring us closer together. We must learn to be tolerant and accepting of our differences. As we move forward, you can continue to count on America to be a caring and compassionate global citizen.
Our ability to be a great global citizen and our ability to leave our nation in better shape for our children will only come to fruition if we can rebuild at home. Making America Great Again, will not be easy, and it will require sacrifice from all Americans. We must be honest with ourselves about our current situation. We have a national debt of over $19 trillion. Twenty-two percent of children in America live in poverty. We consume 19 million barrels of oil per day—four times more than any other country in the world. The American Society of Engineers has graded our infrastructure a D+. Our laws are a mess. We have a tax code that is over 74,000 pages long. Our political system is broken. My fellow Americans, we have work to do.
The future of America is tremendous. But only if we do the hard work, make the tough decisions, and only if we all work together to solve the complex problems that we face. In order to Make America Great Again, I will focus on the following 12 Key Initiatives:
First, we must drain the swamp in Washington. Americans are sick and tired of the political elite in Washington failing to address and solve the problems of everyday Americans. Today, I pledge to you a New Washington that works for the people. In the first 100 days, I will propose the Congressional Reform Act of 2017. Included in this bill will be term limits, two four year terms for the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. We are $19 trillion in debt and my Reform act will propose the elimination of pay for any government official who has a net worth of over $5 million, the elimination of all pensions and the end of gerrymandering. I will also propose that the size of the House be reduced from 435 to 221. This will allow for a more efficient government, make each member more meaningful, and it will significantly reduce our costs. Shared sacrifice needs to start with our leaders in Washington and I look forward to working with Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority leader Schumer to get this deal done.
Second, I will significantly improve the performance of the federal government by abolishing public unions. These institutions claim to protect the government workers but instead they cripple the very government of the people that they aim to serve. As reported by the USA Today, your chances of dying on the job are higher than being fired for doing a poor job. As the president of the United States, I pledge to you a government that will focus on the citizens as customers and will create a work environment that pays people well while demanding outstanding performance.
Third, you can count on the Trump administration to fix our ridiculous tax code. If anything symbolizes the lack of leadership in Washington and the dysfunctionality of our Government, it is our tax code. As of today, our tax code is 74,385 pages long and since 2001 there have been 4,680 changes. The only people who can keep up with the tax code are lawyers. And the only people who can hire lawyers to work the tax system are rich individuals and corporations. As an example, General Electric, a GREAT American company, filed a 57,000 page tax return in 2011. GE had a profit of $14 billion and paid ZERO in taxes. My administration will take the 74,000 page tax code and shrink it to 10 pages. My new tax program closes many loopholes in order to significantly bring rates down for both individuals and corporations. A country’s tax system is a reflection of its government and we will have an effective system that is easy to use and works for, and not against, the American people.
Fourth, I pledge to you that we will fix Social Security, an amazing program that has helped millions of Americans. Unfortunately, Social Security is broken and no one in Washington has had the courage to fix it. Today, I am proposing a simple solution to scrap the cap on Social Security. Americans currently pay 6 percent on their first $116,000 of income. Zero on everything above. By scrapping the cap, all wages earned will carry the 6 percent tax and this one single move will put Social Security on sound financial ground for generations to come.
Fifth, I pledge to you that we will make America’s Transportation System Great Again! Today I am announcing the Trump Transportation Program to rebuild America for the 21st Century. Over the next five years the TTP will spend $1 Trillion to rebuild our roads, bridges, and basic infrastructure. By doing this, we will put millions of people back to work in good paying jobs and we will return our transportation system, once the envy of the world, back to where it belongs. In a bold move, something that has not been practiced in Washington, we are actually going to pay for this program by raising the gas tax. Transportation has been traditionally funded by the gas tax, but no one in Washington has had the courage to raise this tax over the last 24 years. In that time, the cost of construction has increased by 40 percent and the miles per gallon have increased significantly, leaving a massive shortfall in our transportation fund. I will not kick the can down the road to future generations—I am proposing that we raise the gas tax by $1 a gallon. This increase will provide the funds necessary to rebuild America. More importantly, it will affect the demand for gasoline, encouraging the marketplace to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. The time has come for every American to understand that climate change is not a hoax. The ten warmest years in the last 134 have all occurred since 2000. The pressure on our planet will continue to increase as the population grows from 7.2 billion today to 9.7 billion forecasted by 2050. In addition to increasing the gas tax, In addition to increasing the gas tax, I have asked EPA Director Pruitt to have a simple plan on my desk in the next 60 days for America to lead the world in protecting the environment. We must act Now.
Sixth, I will fix the legal system. No one knows the legal system better than me. I have sued more people and have been sued by more people than any incoming president in the history of our great nation. Today, I am proposing that we make one simple change to our legal system and that is to adopt the English Rule where the loser pays the winner’s legal bills. This one change would reduce frivolous lawsuits by more than 50 percent, making America a better place to do business and create millions of new jobs.
Seventh, I will bring fiscal sanity to the Defense Department. We cannot continue to spend more money on our defense than the next six nations in the world combined. Our $640 billion defense budget has many opportunities for cost reductions. We must understand that we are $19 trillion in debt and cannot afford to have 4,000 military bases in the United States and over 1,000 overseas. We can no longer build unwanted weapons solely for their politically advantageous nature for certain Congressional members. We can no longer afford to spend $360 billion to upgrade our nuclear weapons over the next ten years. We can no longer afford to spend $4 billion on a new Air Force One. The list goes on and on. I am instructing Defense Secretary James Mattis to report back to me with options to reduce the Defense Department budget from $640 billion to $400 billion over the next ten years. I have spent my life delivering projects on time and below budget. The Defense Department needs a financial reality check and I will deliver it.
Eighth, I will significantly reduce the likelihood of nuclear war. This potential threat scares the hell out of me and it should scare the hell out of you. Today, we have over 2,000 nuclear missiles in planes, on submarines, and in fortified bunkers controlled by computers that can be launched within 30 seconds by a single command from the Commander in Chief. As a first step, I am instructing Secretary Mattis to reduce our active duty nukes from 2,000 to 311 effective immediately. Two very smart former civilian members of the Air Force wrote an article on how we could live with just 311 missiles. I have met with these gentlemen and agree that this can be done. This move will reduce the chances of the United States causing a nuclear war by more than 90 percent, it will significantly reduce costs, and it will send a signal to the rest of the world to stop the arms race. Instead of focusing our precious resources on a potential second Cold War, we will dedicate the necessary resources to fight the war on terror, pay down our debt, and invest in transportation and education, both of which have a big impact over the long term.
Ninth, I will improve the quality of our health care system and significantly drive costs down. Today, in America we spend 17.2 percent of our GDP on health care, by far the highest in the world and yet we get the worst results. As a nation, we need to be honest and take a look in the mirror. We are the unhealthiest generation in the history of America and we have the most ridiculous health care system to deal with it. The combination of the two is a disaster. In my first act as president, I will put an end to Obamacare tomorrow. It is too complicated and costs too much money. It will be replaced with Trump Care. Trump Care will be a simple, low-cost plan that will be an extension of Medicare. This plan will cover all Americans who want basic health insurance. If you want more than the basic, you can go out and pay for it in the market place. Medicare already covers 130 million Americans and why not use a system we already have in place? There is one catch to Trump Care, and that is we will have minimum standards of health. If you don’t care about your health, you should not expect the country to pay for it. I have instructed Tom Price, my Health and Human Services Secretary, to have a plan on my desk within 30 days.
Tenth, the time has come for us to face the facts and deal with the gun violence that plagues this country. I know that many of you are focused on Second Amendment rights, and you have nothing to worry about. I have no interest in taking guns away from law abiding citizens. However, we need to face the simple facts: Gun violence kills 12,000 Americans every year and maims 75,000, a number many people do not discuss. The annual cost of gun violence in America is over $200 billion. I will be sending a simple, one-page, bill to Congress next week; the Trump Responsible Gun Ownership Act which will contain two provisions: First, all guns purchased in America must come with a background check. Second, all people who have a gun must have a license to carry that gun. We require people to get a license to drive a car, we should do the same for those who want to carry a gun.
Eleventh, I will work hard to reduce inequality in America. During the campaign, I met with many minority leaders and saw first-hand the terrible conditions that exist in many of our poorest neighborhoods. I want every single child in America to have a chance to climb the ladder out of poverty. He or she is a moral drain on the fiber of our nation. To whom much is given, much is required and I believe that all of us need to take responsibility for the children who are trapped in the cycle of poverty. Today, I am announcing the boldest program since President Johnson’s Great Society to significantly reduce childhood poverty in America. Next week, I will send legislation to Congress to enact Head Start 2, a program to give every kid a chance. For every child in poverty, Head Start 2 will provide the following: Three meals a day until the age of 22, free health care until the age of 22, and free education until the age of 22. All of this will be paid for by the revenue generated from scrapping the cap on Social Security.
Finally, as your president, I will reform campaign finance. We should not be in a position where America’s highest offices are for sale. The smartest people with the best ideas should be elected, not those who raise the most amount of money. Today, in America, 93 percent of candidates who raise the most amount of money win, and our politicians spend a large part of their day not working for you, but raising money from wealthy individuals to ensure that they will win re-election. This is not how a democracy should work, and I am committed to putting an end to campaign donations from any organization including businesses, Unions and PACs. The only people who should be able to donate to a campaign should be those who vote.
Tom Brokaw wrote a book called The Greatest Generation. In his book, Brokaw argued that the generation that grew up in the United States during the Great Depression, and then went on to fight in World War 2 did so not for fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do.
And what do our current generations have to be proud of when it comes to government? The bad news is that we are not leaving our nation in better shape than the nation we inherited from our parents. The good news is that we have an amazing opportunity in these difficult times for our generation to step up and solve the major issues that confront us. We have the chance to fix our nation’s finances, make our government significantly more productive, fix our legal system, improve the health of our people, re-build our transportation system, make changes to Social Security so that it no longer hangs by a financial thread, and to reduce inequity in America and offer a future to millions of children living in poverty.
If we work together and put country ahead of party, community ahead of personal gain, and put shared sacrifice at the top of the list, this generation can be the greatest generation in the history of the United States. I pledge to you that I will devote all of my energy to listening and leading all Americans so that the next four years can be the most productive in the history of our great nation.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
John Burke is the President of Trek Bicycle and the author of the new book “12 Simple Solutions to Save America”